I am really honoured and pleased to have received some feedback on my blog subjects covering our beautiful country of New Zealand and I have even had a few people say that they would one day love to come visit our glorious country!
So to add to this – I will give you a few top tips for travelling within our Island nation.
ALWAYS HAVE EXTRA LAYERS WITH YOU
A famous saying I grew up with in New Zealand is “Four Seasons in a Day”, meaning the weather changes so often in New Zealand that is often feels like you experience four seasons in just one day.
This is especially true when it comes to the “tropical” top of the North Island – but also right down to the bottom of the artic South Island. Let that be a word of warning to you and always have an extra layer with you, even when venturing on a day trip in summer. The weather can change on a dime, so be prepared.
Another popular saying in our family is: “take warm clothes, cool clothes and a change of clothes!”
GET AROUND BY BUS, TRAIN, CAR OR CAMPER
New Zealand is well connected with roads.
The cheapest way to get around would be to get a pass for one of the national bus services, however, you can amp up your bus experience with like-minded travellers on one of the hop-on hop-off buses or other bus tour companies.
We also have a very extensive railroad network and some of the train trips available throughout the country are an awesome way to see the country from the comfortable, heated and air conditioned rail cars. Some of them even have restaurants and gift shops on board for your added pleasure.
For more independent travel and to get to those off the beaten track places, it is definitely best to rent a car or campervan.
Some of our long-term backpacker visitors will find that buying a car or campervan then selling it after their trip is much more cost-effective than renting.
ON THE SUBJECT OF DRIVING…
To keep yourself and others on the New Zealand roads safe, we really recommend you check out the New Zealand road rules before heading out.
The obvious one is that we drive in the left in New Zealand, but there are some rules about intersections and one-way bridges that you are probably not familiar with.
Wise up by checking out How to Drive in New Zealand as a search on the World Wide Web.
On another note, always double-check your GPS directions with another source. When getting to some more secluded locations, GPS directions are not usually reliable. Although this may mean you get a truly scenic experience it will take a lot longer.
The issue of livestock on our roads may also be an issue – don’t be surprised by a local farmer moving his stock along some of our more rural roads!
Finally, be aware that many of New Zealand’s roads are winding, so take that into account when planning your travel time.
Everyday items, such as food and drink, are likely to be more expensive than what you might be used to at home unfortunately.
That’s the problem with being an isolated country. With this in mind, plan your budget accordingly.
Reduce the number of times you eat out and cook meals for yourself.
Hostels, motels, and camping grounds always have kitchen facilities where you can cook your own meals so save on food costs by using these.
Of course that is not to say that you shouldn’t sample some of the beautiful restaurants and café’s while you are here!
And of course you most definitely have to sample some of our unique and flavoursome foods mentioned in a previous blog.
Between New Zealand and Australia is a nasty hole in the O-zone layer which means the UV rays are pretty intense compared to what you might be used to in your home land.
Just seven minutes of sun exposure can leave you with nasty sunburn…. And with me being of the fairer complexion I seem to burn in even less time than that sometimes!!
Lather up with at least SPF factor 30 before spending time outside, even in winter as it is still possible to have sunburn from glare from water or snow while travelling around our magnificent regions.
YOU DON’T NEED TO TIP
Tipping is not common practice in New Zealand and you are not expected to tip, but if you feel like a service has been exceptional then of course a tip will always be welcomed by our friendly, dedicated working people in any sector!
BE AWARE OF FREEDOM CAMPING RULES
It’s the dream right? Parking up among the stunning scenery of New Zealand in your car or campervan to camp for the night? Well, that isn’t always the reality of a campervan trip in New Zealand. In reality, you can’t exactly park anywhere for the night. In order to keep New Zealand beautiful, there are restrictions on where you can camp for free, more commonly known as freedom camping.
If you want to be able to freedom camp as often as possible in New Zealand, then you will need to get or rent a self-contained vehicle. Otherwise, be prepared to add the cost of campsites and holiday parks to your budget.
Freedom camping needs a bit of planning because of the difference in laws between districts. The best way to be sure on where you can freedom camp is by asking at a local information centre (i-SITE), a DOC visitor centre, a local holiday park or at the local district council. Many district councils have this information on their website, so simply google the district and “freedom camping” gives you the answers you need from a reliable source.
For activities, accommodation and even your flight to New Zealand, you will often find a cheaper and better service if you book direct with one of our many New Zealand companies.
Let your “fingers do the walking” by using your search engine of the World Wide Web to find out exactly which activities you want to partake of while travelling around New Zealand and use online travel agents to compare prices, then book direct with the accommodation provider/activity provider.
They will usually match a price you have found elsewhere and often put you in one of the better rooms, seats, etc. than the ones they have listed on an online travel agent website.
This is just a little bit of local knowledge gained over the years!